Arsenal will get their bid to retain the FA Cup underway when Newcastle visit The Emirates in the third round of the competition on Saturday night.
Mikel Arteta’s side are the current holders after beating Chelsea in the delayed Wembley final back in August, which marked a record 14th FA Cup win for the Gunners.
Now they are set to begin the defence of their crown against Newcastle, who are making the trip to north London for Saturday’s 5:30pm kick-off.
Arteta will hope to claim another victory and continue Arsenal’s recent resurgence, having recorded three straight wins in the Premier League over Christmas.
But following a hectic festive schedule, he could hand some much-needed minutes to some of his fringe players against Steve Bruce’s men.
Thomas Partey and Reiss Nelson are the Gunners’ only injury doubts heading into the game, although Gabriel Magalhaes is in a similar boat after returning from a recent spell on the sidelines with an illness.
Runar Alex Runarsson, who needs game time to rebuild his confidence after a dismal showing in last month’s 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat at home to Manchester City, could replace Bernd Leno in goal,
Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are likely to keep their places in the full-back slots, with Gabriel expected to come back in at centre-back alongside David Luiz.
Arteta may gamble on the fitness of Partey in a two-man midfield with Mohamed Elneny, which will allow him to regain match sharpness ahead of next week’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.
Willian has fallen out of favour of late and could return on the right flank, while Gabriel Martinelli should stay over on the left and sandwich Joe Willock in the No.10 slot.
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And after scoring four goals in three games for Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette is likely to remain at the pinpoint of Arteta’s attack.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Newcastle (4-2-3-1):Runarsson; Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Elneny, Partey; Willian, Willock, Martinelli; Lacazette
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